Burtco proposes five-bay car wash for Route 103 S.

By Shawn Cunningham

On Monday night, the Chester Development Review Board reconvened a hearing on a conditional use permit for a five-bay car wash to be built and operated on Route 103 south. The facility, which will have two automatic and three self-serve bays will be owned and operated by Burtco and is proposed for the vacant lot between the Green Mountain High School driveway and the Chester-Andover Family Center.

The proposed plan for a Burtco car wash for Chester includes three self-serve bays, pictured far right, and more solar panels than are pictured.

The proposed plan for a Burtco car wash for Chester includes three self-serve bays, pictured far right, and more solar panels than are in this artist’s rendering.

Due to a conflict of interest stemming from being involved in the real estate transaction on the property, DRB member Amy O’Neil  recused herself and alternate Ken Barrett stood in. The board discussed and accepted documents as exhibits relating to waste water issues, lighting and traffic flow.

According to Burtco President Stanton Scott, the facility will be open year round from 7 a.m. to 8 or 9 p.m. with its perimeter and sign lights going off around 10 p.m. and building lights remaining on all night. The building will sit at the rear of the lot and be oriented with the gable end of the self-serve bay facing the road.

In a telephone interview yesterday, Scott said that Burtco selected the site because its Westminster car wash “draws a lot of customers from Chester and you want to go into a market that doesn’t have a car wash.” He added, “I always thought it would be a good spot for one.” Scott said that this particular site is good because it is on the right side of the road to avoid traffic problems in ski season and close enough to town to be convenient and have town water and sewer connections.

The site consists of  four lots comprising 5 acres and the car wash will take up about half the space. Burtco plans to use bushes along the Route 103 portion of the lot as screening and ground cover because the hill is difficult to mow. It will also use six to eight trees and arbor vitae around the building.

One feature of the construction is the use of 30 to 35 solar hot water panels to preheat the water before it goes into a propane boiler. Once the water is heated fully by the propane boiler, it will then be used to wash cars and to heat the floor to prevent winter ice buildup. Scott says that this doesn’t save Burtco money, but “it gives us hot water longer. In January and February you can’t make it fast enough and the water temperature can drop to 60 degrees. With the preheating, we can wash cars all day and the water never goes below 100 degrees.”

Burtco operates three self storage facilities – one in Chester behind the Heritage Diner – a car wash in Westminster and a metal shop that fabricates forms and pipe guards for gas pump islands. According to Scott, who expects to employ two to three people part time,  he has heard no opposition to the plan.

On a 4-1 vote, the DRB adjourned the hearing, triggering  a 45-day deliberation period after which the DRBis obliged to issue a decision. If there is no decision after that time, the permit is automatically granted.

In addition to the conditional use permit, the project needs a wastewater permit and a permit from the Agency of Transportation to work within the right of way for Route 103 when hooking up to town water and sewer. Scott said that while they would like to be open by October, “there is a six- to eight-month build out and we will have to push hard to make it.” If that proves unattainable, Scott hopes to have the self-serve bays and one automatic bay open this fall.

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  1. Tom Hildreth says:

    I think a car wash would be a great asset for Chester. Having commuted 75 miles a day to and from work and seeing the white crust of salt buildup on my vehicles in the winter has often made me wish we had a car wash in town.

  2. KZ says:

    It’s about time.